To Get People to Eat Less Meat, Just Tell Them the Benefits

Research shows that shifting to a plant-based diet can help reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease, as well as lower blood pressure and help manage weight. Eating more plant-based foods instead of meat is also better for the environment, too, resulting in lower greenhouse gas emissions and a smaller carbon footprint.

So given all these benefits, why is a major portion of the American diet dedicated to animal products like milk, cheese, poultry, pork and beef?

Well, according to findings from a recent study out of the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, the answer is that people are just unaware of the many advantages of plant-based eating. The study found that programs like Meatless Monday, which clearly outline the health and environmental benefits of meat reduction, can be an important platform in spreading the message to far reaching corners of the public.

The study, which was recently published in the American Journal of Public Health, compared subjects’ responses to health and environmentally friendly Meatless Monday campaign messages to control messages about credit scores. The results showed that the Meatless Monday messaging was more attention-grabbing and positively received, increased negative perceptions of red meat consumption on health and the environment, and effectively reduced the intention to consume red meat products.

 “Mass media campaigns are a promising but understudied area for changing meat consumption,” noted Hannah Rayala, the study’s lead author. “We chose to study whether the campaign had an impact on perceived message effectiveness because this approach has been used to evaluate many other health communication campaigns and is predictive of actual behavioral change.”

Interested in incorporating Meatless Monday messaging into your school, community, or organization? Click here to see our full portfolio of Meatless Monday resources and materials. They’re easy to use and simple to incorporate into new or existing programming.